1st August 2019

World Lung Cancer Day: A timeline of lung cancer research

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Today is World Lung Cancer Day, a day where everyone gives lung cancer the attention it deserves.

Every day is lung cancer day for us. It has been for nearly 30 years. Every day, we support. We research. We help. We campaign. We educate. Lung cancer has always been our priority. However, the same certainly cannot be said for everywhere – even on days supposedly dedicated to it.

Far too often lung cancer has been left to linger in the background; a disease that, despite the huge numbers it affects, has not received the attention or funding it warranted.

In 2004, lung cancer received just £7m in research funding. In the same year, 33,000 men and women died of the disease. This equates to £212 spent per death, significantly less than other cancers:

Cancer typeResearch spendNo. of deathsSpend per death

Believe it or not, research spend on lung cancer then declined the following year and did not surpass £7m until 2007/08. This is despite incidence rates in women increasing.

It wasn’t until 2014/15 that lung cancer got the injection it desperately needed, when research spend increased 45%, from £14.7m to £21.3m. Since then, there has been an upward trajectory and now, as of last year, lung cancer receives the second highest amount of research spend.

Research spend equals long term survival

It sounds pretty obvious, but the more money for research a cancer receives, the more progress that is made and the more lives that are saved.

Cancer typeTotal money spent
10-year survival
10-year survival
Current 10-year
survival rate
Breast£530.7m4 in 108 in 1078%
Leukaemia£384.2m5 in 10046 in 10046%
Colorectal£298.0m2 in 106 in 1057%
Prostate£228.1m1 in 48 in 1084%
LUNG£163.0m< 5 in 1005 in 1005%

It’s worth noting that almost two thirds of the total amount spent of lung cancer research has come in the last five years (£90.2m 2011-2016).

There is still so much to do, so much lost time to make up for. But with lung cancer finally receiving the amount of research spend it deserves, with the people affected by lung cancer finally receiving the amount of research spend they deserve, we will see more change. We will see more progress.

We will not stop

We will reduce the number of people dying from lung cancer. We will see more people living well with lung cancer for 10 years or more. We will prevent future generations from going through what the thousands and thousands of families before them have had to endure.

Lung cancer is our only priority and we will continue to ensure it remains a priority for everyone else too.

We will continue to lead the way in innovative research into early detection. We will continue to offer practical and emotional support everyone affected by lung cancer. We will continue to raise awareness and tell the stories of the people who are living with this disease to show that they matter.

And that feels like something to celebrate this World Lung Cancer Day.

References: NCRI: Cancer Research Database | Cancer Research UK